By Biodun Busari
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that at least one person dies every hour from Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) related diseases.
The Chief WASH, UNICEF Ghana, Mr Ramesh Bhusal, made the revelation at an engagement with the media ahead of the UN’s 2023 Water Conference on Wednesday.
Bhusal, then, called on Ghanaian authorities to urgently salvage the situation by increasing investment in the WASH sector to make safe water accessible to every member of the public, All Africa reported.
The UN official said poor sanitation conditions posed grave public health risks, therefore, prioritising WASH services in the country would help save lives.
He noted that Sub-Saharan Africa was trailing the global average, where one in three people still depend on unprotected water sources and two to three persons used unsafe sanitation facilities.
The sanitation situation in Ghana, he said, was very poor with only 25 per cent of the population having access to basic services, about 57 per cent using shared public facilities and 18 per cent openly defecating.
According to Bhusal, water was vital to every aspect of human survival and well-being, the economic development and prosperity of every country.
He, however, expressed regret that, “this fundamental human right is not within the reach of many.”
While there were reasons to celebrate remarkable achievements the world had made in improving access to water and sanitation, he noted that the progress made so far was “generally slow and highly inequitable,”, especially for Sub-Saharan Africa.
He expressed the fear that due to Ghana’s proximity to the Sahel Region and position as a safe haven for people displaced from the Sahel, the country was going to face more problems relating to the already inadequate WASH services, especially in the Northern regions.
Touching on what the UN was doing to support Ghana’s WASH sector, Bhusal revealed that the UN in Ghana was supporting the government to realise access to safe and sustainable WASH services by all, including children and their families through capacity building, modelling innovative service delivery approaches and system strengthening through evidence-based policy, strategy and guidelines.
“The overarching aim of the UN in Ghana is to ensure no child goes to school without functioning WASH facilities and no women have to give birth in health facilities without functioning toilets and washrooms,” he added.
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